Simon Mustard organises coding boot camp for kids

Simon Mustard, an information technology (IT) organisation has organised a three-day coding boot camp for kids at the Peak Lyceum School in Tema, to teach them some elements of computer programming.

The event, which brought together 40 kids most of whom were new to coding, enable them to learn the fundamentals of coding and to build their own games; and also to learn about entrepreneurship and leadership from industry experts.

Mr Simon Ampah, a graduate of the University of Cape Coast, who co-founded Simon Mustard with his senior brother, who is an IT teacher; said Simon Mustard organizes the Gates Coding Club which aims to expose and inspire 10,000 African kids between the ages of 5-16 years to coding by 2025.

Gate Coding Club is a school based computer club that teaches children between the ages of 5-14 years coding, robotics and other tech related skills.

Mr Ampah said they put together this boot camp to help Ghanaian kids to catch up with the rest of the world, saying, Africa is far behind as far as developing content for the digital space is concerned; adding that most internet users in Africa were end-users and not developer.

He explained that he co-founded Simon Mustard to help reverse this trend through the activities of the Gates Coding Club.

The project has already introduced coding to a number of schools as an extra-curricular activity and also through their boot camp which are organized from time to time.

He said the Gates Coding Club caters for students from primary schools through to high schools and that it is the first of its kind in Ghana.

Mr Ampah recounted that the benefits of coding were enormous because it helped the kids to think logically and breakdown complex problems.

"Many parents came to us and told us; oh we finally found a coding school designed for kids. Some parents wondered why this was a one-off event and urged the organizers to continue after the boot camp,” he said.

Mr Ampah observed that they intend to have a meet up with the kids at the end of each month to build on what they have learnt during the boot camp, pointing out that the future of the world belonged to kids who knew how to code since coding is expected to be a basic requirement for getting into any employment position just as computer literacy is today.

“Some countries including Australia, Estonia, United Kingdom, Finland, as well as some state in the United States have already added coding to the basic school curriculum and wondered why Ghana is still using precious instructional hours to teach basic office applications when that time could be better utilized on challenging coding projects,” he asked.

"I love to come to the class and write codes because when I code successfully, I can feel the achievement. This makes me happy and proud of myself," said Essilfuah Mensah a participant at the boot camp.

“It’s a fun challenge,” said Hilary Osei, a participant. “It starts off easy, but then it gets more difficult, but as you get into it, it’s kind of fun.”

She also said that making mistakes is part of the enjoyment.